Grieving the Loss of a Best Friend

I think of all the hundreds of articles I have written, the one that has motivated the most people to write me has been about the grief over losing a best friend.


To anyone who has had a best friend die, my heart goes out to you.  It is a lose that our society does not really honor or respect.  There is no time off from work, no condolence letters, etc.  There is nothing anyone can say to make you feel better, but it is important to give credence to your pain -- it is real.

If you have had a dear friend die, you may always miss her.  Keep her in a reserved, cherished spot inside you, where you can go any time you want. However, she does not need to be front and center all the time.

If you are finding it hard to move on (whatever that means to you), here are some suggestions:

1.  Talk.  Talk about her to other friends.  Don't be shy. You would do that if a parent or sibling died.  Talk about what you loved about her, what you all did together, what you miss about her, and how much you miss her.

2.  Have pictures of her.  Put them out, don't be shy.  Put outas many as you want, anywhere you want.

3.  Talk to her.  Talk to her in your mind's eye, and through the pictures.  Tell her about your day, or whatever else you used to talk to her about.  Tell her you miss her.  Tell her you'll never forget her.  Tell her that even when you begin to move on, develop new friends, have experiences she can’t be a part of, you will not forget her.

4.  Tell yourself you can move on without being disloyal.  She would want you to.  And, since she is in your heart, she will be with you as you move on in your life.

5. Create a mourning ritual.  One that has been useful for some people was adopted (and distorted) from a Jewish grieving ritual. For one week, seven days, pin a piece of black material of any size over your heart.  Once a day, at the same specified time, say a prayer for her or just talk or sing to her.  This should last no more than 5 minutes (which can be very long, actually).  Then, at the end of the week, do the same thing once a week for two to six months -- at the same specified time. 

6.  If you are still feeling an intensity of the pain, if it is interfering with your getting on in life, then it may be time to consult a therapist who specializes in grief (and who can respect the importance of grieving over a friend).  Often, the loss of one person can trigger old losses (deaths or other types of losses).  When that happens, you are actually grieving over the old loss, so no matter how hard you try, you may not be able to get past the current one until you honor and deal with the earlier death. 


There is a really good book that talks about the delayed impact of not resolving the loss (death or emotional absence) of a father, LongingFor Dad.


I’d love to hear from any of you who have found others ways to deal with the death of a best friend.


What did you think of this article?

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  • 11/12/2009 10:13 PM Heather wrote:
    My best friend passed away four months ago. I feel deep hole in my heart. I have never felt such unconditional support, not even from my own parents. In my thirty-eight years, I haven't experienced anything like the chemistry we had as friends with anyone else. I am forever changed.
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  • 11/13/2009 5:06 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
     What can I say, Heather?  My heart goes out to you.  There are all these wonderful platitudes, like time will heal your hurt.  While that is true, it sure doesn't help right now, I know.

    Be kind to yourself, especially while you are so vulnerable with this loss.

    Reply to this
  • 11/19/2009 4:26 PM Felicia wrote:
    I'm in the same boat as Heather, my best friend died of cancer in August. Although we had the opportunity to talk about it ahead of time and say what we needed to say, nothing can prepare you. I too am 38 and never imagined having such a bond and know I'll never have another friend like her. I totally agree...forever changed.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/2/2012 7:46 PM deb wrote:
      I also lost my best friend, who also happened to be my sister-in-law for 35 years, to a brain tumour. Very quick, but we did always talk, and when she got sick, nothing was left unsaid. I am lost without her and don't have any other friends, and I know I will never have another friend like that. Nobody ever had more fun than we did. Road trips, raising our children together and most of all shopping always and sharing our wine. Now I am drinking her share as well. It sure is lonely. I miss her.
      Reply to this
      1. 1/3/2012 6:10 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
        Losing a good friend, especially a long-time friend, is beyond words.  And, what makes it worse, is that good friends are not "made."  They grow and evolve over shared time together.  I often hear from mid-life women how hard it so to make new "good" friends.  Well, they are right.  Hopefully, you will meet other women, but of course, none will ever replace her.

        I'm sure your comment struck a note  in lots of other readers.

        Reply to this
      2. 12/29/2012 7:00 PM Liz wrote:
        I lost my very best friend to Pancreatic Cancer last evening. We were like sisters and I was right beside her from diagnosis to last night (4 mths). We said everything we needed to and agreed we had made a lifetime of wonderful memories because we have been BFFs for 30 years - she and I are only 53 years old. Like you we had so much fun and we had plans to have wheel chair races in the nursing home just to drive he nurses crazy. So much more fun we wanted to have. It's so very lonely..and I miss her terribly even though I'm happy that her pain is over and she is finally at peace. I don't look forward to the days and months to come but as she was so strong, I will be strong.
        Reply to this
        1. 12/30/2012 2:06 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:

          Oh Liz,
          How awful it  must be for you today.  But, how lucky to have been with her right to the very end.  What a true friend you are for her, and they you must have been for each other.  You do sound very strong, but be kind to yourself when you are not feeling strong.  You have lost someone to very special, she deserves your strength, but also your tears.  Give yourself full range of your emotions and grieve as well and as long as you need to.  That is one more gift you can give her.

          Reply to this
          1. 1/17/2013 7:38 PM Liz wrote:
            Thank you Karen,

            I told myself that when her suffering ended that I would be alright. I was wrong. The pain of her loss is so hard right now that I just feel empty. I have nothing I care to offer to anyone right now but I do have a loving husband who understands and is very supportive. I know that makes me fortunate. It's just too hard to think about her now, is that normal?
            Reply to this
            1. 1/17/2013 9:09 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
              Absolutely normal!  Take all the time you need; you'll figure out how to move through this.  As I said, you'll never forget her or let her go, but the pain will subside.  If in a six months, if you are still in this same place, consider talking with a therapist or  counselor.  Until then, be kind to yourself and listen to what you need.  And, good for your husband for being so understanding.

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            2. 2/7/2013 2:20 PM Patti wrote:
              I can't believe I came across this website. I too am 52 and just lost my best friend right before xmas to brain cancer. I feel like my whole history is gone and the one person who knew me 100% loved me anyways.
              Reply to this
              1. 2/7/2013 3:34 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:

                I'm glad you found us, too.  I hope reading about others' losses, and my comments, can help you normalize the pain.  Nothing, though, will remove your grief.  And, in fact, you wouldn't want that -- your best friend deserves your pain and grief.   It is horrible to lose someone who knows you so well, loves you so well.  You never replace a best friend, so that only exaggerates the loss, of course.

                Time will allow the pain to subside but the lose will continue.  Hopefully, you will find a way to carry her with you in life.  She is lucky to have had such a good friend as you!
                Reply to this
        2. 9/14/2013 5:56 PM Jean ray wrote:
          I lost my best friend to pancreatic cancer 12/10/12. She was diagnosed only two months before. All summer she had back pain and was scheduled for back surgery. My life feels so empty without her.we had been friends for 22 years, and there wasn't much we didn't know about each other.we talked about everything. She was 12 years older than me, so I knew she would probably go before me, but I sure didn't expect it to be so soon or so sudden. It has been a devastating loss.
          Reply to this
          1. 9/15/2013 7:15 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
            Hi Jean,
            I am so sorry to hear about your friend's death.  I know no words ever can touch the whole she has left in your heart, and the pain.  And, it isn't fair she died too soon.  I can appreciate how devastating it has been for you.  If you've  this read
            through the other comments here, you will see you are not alone in facing the loss of such a dear friend -- not that that makes it any easier, I understand.  If you ever want to talk, write again or call.  Karen

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  • 11/22/2009 5:34 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
    Hi Felicia,

    Would you be surprised to learn that the issue of losing a best friend to death is one of the topics I get the most emails about?

    While that means you are not alone in the pain of your loss, I know it doesn't really help with the pain!

    It has only been 3 months, so be kind to yourself.  Your friend deserves your grief, so don't rush yourself.  If after 3 more months, the pain is no less, then write me again and we can talk about what might be of help.  Sometimes, when time alone is not alleviating the loss (at least a bit) it often means this loss is stirring up another loss that has not been resolved or grieved.

    The best I can offer now is to say how lucky you are to have had your best friend for as long as you had her.  Of course, loving brings about change, as well as the loss.  But, she probably would want you to put your change to a good purpose.

    Reply to this
  • 8/8/2010 10:10 PM Lorraine Tauson wrote:
    I am grieving my best friend forever. I found out that she died last Christmas (2009). It has totally devastated me. We were so close. The last words I ever heard from her will haunt me forever, "they think they found something"... in a strange, deep, unrecognizable voice. Her husband literally aged overnight when she died of cancer and her two sons are also devastated without her guidance. All her friends and church pals miss her more than words can ever say. I will love and miss you forever Joyce. As you went to your grave with all my secrets I shall go to my grave with all of yours. Rest in peace dear. Love from Lorraine. xo
    Reply to this
    1. 8/9/2010 9:39 AM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Hi Lorraine,
      I am so sorry for your losing Loraine.  You wrote such a beautiful letter, so I assume her family knows how loved and missed she is by others.  Thank you for sharing this.  This article is the one that receives the most comments, so it is clear that pain of the loss of a best friend is so under recognized.  Family members get the support for their loss, friends usually don't.

      Reply to this
  • 8/28/2010 4:55 PM Viki wrote:
    Thank you for this, too; it says so much. I am writing a book on the unique experience of grieving the death of a friend (as opposed to a family member). It's been an incredible and very empowering thing, to hear people from around the country talk about their loss and their frustration with those who don't understand their grief. I've gotten such positive response, and when I tell them I'm writing it because of a promise I made to a dear friend who died, they "get it". I want to call the book "my best friend died and no none gives a s***", but I don't think that'll fly!
    Reply to this
    1. 8/30/2010 9:51 AM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      I'm delighted to hear about your book-in-progress.  Do  contact me if you have questions or want more professional input.  It's an important topic.  I will say that of all my articles (and I have written hundreds), this one gets the most comments.  It's clearly a topic of great interest that has few available resources, as you know by the comments of others when you say what you are writing.

      And, frankly, I think that's a great title! ("damn" if you have to clean it up)!
      Reply to this
      1. 8/31/2010 8:02 PM Viki wrote:
        Thanks! I will definitely be in contact with you. I'm off to New York next week, to spend time at Ground Zero on and around 9/11 (it's a chapter in the book). Yeah, 'damn' might work, too!
        Reply to this
  • 12/30/2010 1:30 AM Liz wrote:
    I lost a close friend back in June very suddenly. I felt as if I was getting over it (the first week after it happened I felt extremely depressed and then as time went on i felt that less) today was her birthday and i joined her family in celebrating that. however, i also found out the cause of her death which was an accidental overdose. i'm feeling a lot of guilt because i feel as though i should have been there for her more and i wasnt. she went through a terrible ordeal with being sexually assaulted in front of her two young children and suffered from extreme depression and anxiety because of it. and i just wasnt there like i should have been. but it was hard because i have a husband and obligations and she turned to pills and alcohol and it was hard for me to be around that. (especially considering the fact that she had children) i just didnt know how to handle it. i wanted to be there for her but it was hard. and now that she is gone i feel i am partially responsible. i feel like i should have been a better friend. how could i even call myself a friend? i should have just been there for her. but i didnt know how. i wish i could have done something or said something to make her feel like she wasnt alone. maybe had a been there for her she wouldnt have overdosed on meds and she would still be here. i just dont know what to do or how to feel and everyone keeps telling me i was a good friend to her but i know i wasnt...
    Reply to this
    1. 12/30/2010 2:24 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Hi Liz,
      Oh dear, that has to feel awful for you.  And, having everyone tell you you did the best/you were a good friend, doesn't matter at all, does it.  You still feel awful.  If you were an insensitive person, a callous person, you would be able to shake this and move on.  So, it's a compliment to you that you are still so pained.  It isn't clear from what you wrote if you think she may have taken the pills on purpose.  if so, there really is nothing you could have done to have prevented her from ending her life -- if that's what she wanted.  And, if it were an accident, you can beat yourself up from now til kingdom come and it won't bring her back or make you feel any better.  Perhaps you can think of something you can do, now, that would make you feel some type of reparation.  Being more involved with the children, volunteering, perhaps, with an abused women's program, donating to a child abuse program -- anything that connects you with her.  Just doing more of the same, abusing yourself, won't make it better for her or for you.  So, think of an action that might.  What happened to her was just awful.  the reality is that none of us always responds perfectly to situations.  We're always left with, "what i I had only," or "I wish I had...."  Be kind to yourself (she probably would want you to, also, since she was a friend).  And, of course, more of the old feelings get stirred up on anniversaries, so even as you begin to feel less badf, expect to have more reactions on the date of her death.

      Feel free to contact me again, if you want.

      Reply to this
  • 2/17/2011 2:18 PM Howard Puerto wrote:
    I lost my best friend maQuelle back in March of 2010 in a freak car accident. We were so close! We grew so close since the moment we met. I was sure I'd have a friend forever!! I looked forward to many summers spent in fun with her and our other friends!! We were like a family!! We were so close to each other it felt so right and I felt like i finally found a place and people that were truly mine. We did everything together! We all enjoyed dancing together it was our thing to do. MaQuelle had the most beautiful smile and the kindest eyes!! We were referred to as "Hubby and Wifey" by all our friends and ourselves!! I was so happy to have them. It was the best time of my life. On one evening while out dancing MaQuelle told a few of us she was diagnosed with stage 3 thyroid and stage 3 double breast cancer and would start chemotherapy soon. It broke our hearts but we promised we would all be there and get through it together!! About a few weeks after that I got the call at work from our friend Mikki telling me MaQuelle had gotten in a car accident and got ejected and it would be a few hours before we would know what had happened since she crashed in Idaho and we live in Utah. I was asked to call everyone else and tell them the news. So i did and broke the news to everyone. Later that evening Mikki called again and broke it to us. MaQuelle had not made it out alive. She broke her neck as she got ejected and died at the scene. She felt no pain. Our lives were shattered. We lost the best part of ourselves when she passed away. It's been almost a year and I have had little time to grieve propperly. I miss her a lot everyday and wish things hadn't had to be this way. I think I am grieving not only her passing but the life we all had with her in it. I am grieving the best time of my life but feel somewhat trapped because no one understands what it's like here at home and friends don't like talking about it. I hear the second year is harder! If that is true than I am scared but I know I have to keep moving on. It just is hard to have to deal with this. One minute life is wonderful and the next, it's excruciating pain. It's like a light went out in my heart and innocence was lost. It's all just so sad and unreal.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/17/2011 10:25 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Oh Howard,
      I am so sorry to hear this. But, I am also really impressed that you understand that losing her, in addition to that horror, also effect how you feel about yourself and  the life you had then.  Such a death does have a long-term (perhaps forever) effect.  Yet, if the grief is dealt with, it is possible to find a place in your heart for  your grief, so you won't be carrying it forever.  And, to make the grieving process even harder, as you point out, friends are ready to move on, are tired of hearing you talk about it.  Yet, that is exactly what you need to do -- to keep talking about it,  But, if friends are not accessible, perhaps you need to seek a professional.  Not talking about it will definitely make it harder to find a place for this grief.  Feel free to contact me if you'd like to talk more about this.  Thanks for writing.  Dr. Karen Gail Lewis
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  • 2/18/2011 10:48 AM Lorraine Tauson wrote:
    Thank you very much for your kind words. Your words are very helpful and soothing to my soul. To be honest though I will grieve for her forever. That is because, she was literally the only person on earth I could trust with my life on. I am very serious about this. We being both christian' s helped too. I miss her every single day and I think of her as such daily just as much as I miss my parents who are also gone. Thanks again. LT
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  • 2/24/2011 5:10 PM Amber wrote:
    I am so happy to have found your article. Someone mentioned earlier that there are tons of resources for those who have lost relatives, but rarely do you stumble upon something about losing a best friend.
    I lost my best friend almost seven (yes, SEVEN) years ago and I am just now truly grieving her. I was devasted when it happened, got on anti-depressants, the whole nine yards. Every year around this time when Spring comes around (and most people seem happy), I am reminded of her death and the nature of her death. She was 24-years old and was raped and strangled by a complete stranger who forced his way into her apartment. It was a Saturday night. She lay on her floor Easter Sunday and was found the following Monday morning when she did not show up for work. Her funeral was an overnight drive from Louisiana to Oklahoma and took place on my 26th birthday. Although the killer was caught and will spend the rest of his life in prison, the "accessories after the fact" got no jail time.
    During other times of the year, I miss her in a "normal" way. It is from now (end of February) til April 12th (the anniversary) that I am ridden with anxiety, irritability, am easily started and am impatient with others. I told my therapist that I am having a particularly hard time this year and I couldn't figure out why. She suggested that perhaps the anti-depressants, though sometimes are necessary to function in the short-run, can inhibit the grieving process. I also remember that I was in a toxic relationship at the time and had learned to build walls to block out hurtful situations.
    Consequently, this year, I have no "walls" and no anti-depressants. The tears are flowing like crazy. I also have a family and a child now and am sad that I am moving on in life while she was robbed of that opportunity. I'm also disappointed that it feels like I'm taking steps backwards... time heals, right? It's been seven years and (right now at this very moment) it feels like it was yesterday. It's nice to see that I'm not alone and there are other people out there that can relate to this specific type of loss.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/24/2011 6:02 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Hi Amber,
      Oh how awful.  having a best friend die -- regardless how -- is awful.  Having her murdered is just beyond what we expect to happen to those we know.  I have no  words of wisdom for you; ;none would be useful, I'm sure.   I do believe that the body handles grief in its own way, in its own time.  If its taken til now, then that's just what you needed.  Yes, it may be the lack of medication, the change of your relationship.  Regardless why, be glad you are feeling the sadness and horror now.  She was your friend and she deserves to be mourned.  And, she deserves to be remembered for all the wonders of your friendship.

      I've mentioned before in my blogs that this particular article has struck more nerves than any other topic.  I hear more about this than all of my hundreds of other articles together (well, almost).

      It has given me the idea that I will offer a free teleseminar for those of you who have written me -- and others -- on this topic.

      I will get back to you when I have info. 

      Feel free to contact me if you want.


      Reply to this
    2. 2/21/2012 1:22 AM Kendall wrote:
      Amber, I am just now (3 years after she died) starting to really grieve. It hit home with me what you said about the antidepressents and the tears flowing. When my best friend died the meds I took were only really inhibiting my ability to face my true emotions. I was not dealing with the grief bc the meds were covering everything up. Now I am not taking them and the tears flow at the drop of a dime. Would love to chat sometime.... Kendall
      Reply to this
      1. 2/21/2012 10:05 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
        It is amazing that this topic, losing one's good friend, is such a powerful (but undiscussed) one.
        My heart goes out to you, Kendall, as to all of you women who have written about this.  It's a loss that needs to be shared and you need support.  As to medication, it can certainly help you get through the rough beginning, but if it is blocking your grieving, then it will only delay it for later.  So, when you feel strong enough to handle the feelings, let them out.  That is what will help your healing process.

        Reply to this
  • 2/24/2011 8:01 PM Lorraine Tauson wrote:
    I just want to give you my sincere condolences in your raw grief. I can only imagine what you feel about your friend being murdered when I went to the abused centre for women and we made a glove for each and every member of a woman who came through our door. They were all murdered by their significant other. I feel such rage tying this. I hope you can write letters to her in a book that will help you grieve well. Remember: you will never get over this trauma but you will eventually learn to live with it. God bless hon. Peace & Love be with you always. Lorraine Tauson
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  • 6/8/2011 4:52 PM Sheree Adams wrote:
    I just recently lost my best friend. She was only 29 and died from cancer, after battling 2 years, going through 2 bone marrow transplants. This was the only friend I had left from high school, she was just like my sister. We have been there for each other through everything and even though I didn't feel like I was there for her like she was for me, she would write me cards and letter and mail them to me, thanking me for being there for her during hard times. She has had some major medical issues since her daughther was born 6 years ago with several handicaps. She took care of her 24/7 and could not work(she was a hair stylist).She also has a 11yr old son. In these last 2 years since she was sick, I have always thought about her death, how I would cope if I lost her, always thinking it would never happen though. Now that it has, I feel like if I didn't have my husband and 2 kids of my own, I would just crawl into a hole(preferably the hole she is in now) and just lay there till I die. I can't even imagine life going on without her, even though it has for these past 2 months. I'm ashamed of myself for not goig to see her in the hospital more(she had been in the hosp since aug 2010 and died march 2011) or helping out with the kids more, like I said I would. She was there when I had my 2 babies, she even helped me get my first bath after I had a gruesome labor/c-section after my first, only a true friend would do that. I still think she is in birmingham, and I start to make plans to go see her, which is 1hr away from my house. I start to call her or her mom to see how she is feeling today. That is when it hurts the most. I call her cell phone(which was given to her son but still has her voice mail on it)to listen to her voice because I'm scared I have forgotten what she sounds like. I know this is the same pain I will feel when I lose my mom or one of my own siblings. I have lost family, and it hurt. This is on a whole different level. I don't want to resort to taking anti-depressants. It just hurts so bad, my body physicially hurts when I think of the suffering she went through. Her birthday is coming up this month. We was in panama city,fla last year for her birhtday, because we didn't know what would happen with her. We was suppose to be going on a celebration trip this summer to celebrate her beating it and getting well!!! Wish I could really be planning that trip!!! I just need prayers from everyone please!!! I like to write cause I can express how I feel better than through talking out loud, so I do feel a little better just getting these words out! I told Bridget "To the world you may be one person, but to me you are the world!" I love her and will miss her forever, I accept that the hurt will never go away.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/9/2011 5:40 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      I am so sorry to hear this.  Any friend dying is hard, and especially hard when it is your closest friend, when she has gone through so much over the years, and when you are left feel guilt over what you had wanted to do for and with her, but never did.

      There's not much anyone can say to make you feel better.  In fact, you probably can't feel better -- at least not for a long while.  You miss her, of course; you love her.  Anti-depressants are not going to make the loss and sadness any better.  (there is a difference between being depressed and grieving; the latter eventually moves to a more manageable place inside).

      There are some things you can do that might ease the pain somewhat.  For one, you need to find a way to forgive yourself.  You obviously did the best you could do.  And, as you suggest, if you knew she would be dying, you would have done things differently.

      One technique that might help is to make a list of all the ways in which you feel you let her down, things that cause you to feel guilty.  Make sure you write down everything you can think of.  Then, write her a letter, telling her.

      Only then, you can have her write you back.  You know her well enough, so you could write the letter from her to you, in response to your letter.  From what you say, she will surely forgive you, understand why you couldn't do more.

      There's no guarentee, but often this helps with the guilt.  And, if the guilt dissipates, then the depression will lift, leaving you only with the normal amount of sadness at losing someone you love. 

      One other thought.  You mentioned you have lost other people -- I presume you mean people who died.  If so, you might consider that any new loss stirs up the old ones.  There may be some unresolved issues with those who have already died.  If this is true, you probably could benefit from seeing a therapist.  This is hard to clear up on your own.

      If I can be of help, don't hesitate to contact me again.


      Reply to this
  • 7/11/2011 1:08 AM Debra wrote:
    It has been a year since my best friend of 30 years passed and I am still having a tough time. You see I was her caretaker for two and a half years.All appointments, all treatments, all care. you see she had lost her spouse twenty years ago and for whatever reasons, her grown children could not or would not handle it.Her Mother yrs old bless her did the cleaning, laundry, meals and stayed some nights I could not.
    There were four best friends in this group, we had the best times ever! But when the good times started to fade one left never to be again, she did manage to make it to the funeral, so I guess I really lost 2 best friends.
    Why do people have to make it all about their pain and how hard it is for them?
    I've done a lot of the grieving and am getting better but lately I am so angry with the deserters, her children especially, I would beg her daughter to come more, to help more to no avail.
    The Best friend that deserted would want me to call her after every appt. every test actually order me to. After a year of this I refused and told her if she wanted to know how Sheryl was she should call her, stop by to see her, drop off a favorite food. I never saw her again till the funeral a year later. Though when the Dr. told us it was time to call hospice I called & left a message telling her we were calling hospice and if she wanted to see her now would be a good time, she did stop in a month later and told Sheryl she would be back soon...Sheryl passed a month after never to see her again.
    My husband has been so great with all of this. He even tries to do things with me that we used to do together
    I had no idea it would rock my world this much with her gone...We were supposed to be 80yrs old together, more travels, more girl weekends, much more laughs. I do have simple friends but Sheryl was a real friend and I have come to find those are a once in a lifetime kind of friend we were "Oprah and Gail"
    The day before she passed Iwas giving her the meds, she was in lala land so I thought, I took her hand and said"I will miss you so much my friend" and without missing a beat, eyes closed, she whispered "And Oh How I'll miss you"
    I know she had the best care, we laughed more than we cried, we planned her send off and I carried it out to the T. But now I am filled with this anger at how these people could desert such a wonderful Mother and friend, I think I need some help.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/11/2011 1:48 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:

      Oh, my, Debra.  I am so sad and so very happy for you, both.  Sad, of course, that you lost such a dear friend.  Happy that you laughed more than you cried; that you were there for her, that she gave back to you the last day; that you could be such a dear friend for so long and have such a dear friend for so long.

      I can certainly understand your anger – anger at her dying, and more so at those who did not give to her as you knew she needed.  It’s hard to understand why some people stay when a dear friend is dying and others pull away.  I have no idea about her children (that’s their family issues, I suspect).  And, for your friend who deserted her, I again suspect something about loss was tough for her.  You, as tough as it was, had what it took to stay with her and reap the benefits of the year of laughs, confidences, closeness.  That’s your treasure.

      If you would like to talk more about the anger and how to deal with it, do contact me again.

      Continue to cherish your friend.

      Reply to this
  • 10/4/2011 7:02 AM Dannah wrote:
    My best friend of 6 years died at the end of last June. She was only 18 and I had just celebrated my 19th birthday with her just weeks before she passed away. She had just had a baby in January. We were best friends through puberty and growing up. We had spent the night before her wreck together, watching the midnight showing of Eclipse, from the Twilight Saga. The last things she told me were that she hadnt been sleeping that great and she told me that she had something important to tell me after the movie. I had dragged my boyfriend along to the movie, she brought her ex husband, the father of her baby with her. Five minutes before the movie was over she nudged me and told me they were leaving to beat the traffic. My boyfriend and I finished the movie out. I can still remember seeing their car drive by and leave. That was the last time I ever saw my best friend.
    The next morning I kept getting calls from her mom. I ignored them and texted her and told her to get her butt home. (see her mom thought she was staying with me). I tried calling and texting her and her ex, as the calls from her mom continued. Then I got a call from her sister, who said "Hey Dannah, Bre was in an accident and she didnt make it." My heart broke. But no tears fell. We talked a minute more then for some reason my mother came into my room and asked what all the commotion was about. I couldnt even get the words out to tell her. The next three days were a blur of tears, waterproof mascara and black. Even a year and a few months later I dont feel like im properly grieving. She was the first person that has ever died in my life. All four of my grandparents are still alive. Ive never lost anyone. And so unexpected and suddenly. I feel like I lost that one person who knew every single thing about me, I feel like she was my right hand. Im lost without her and I will never know what she had to tell me that night. Its tough, her baby was barely five months old when she passed away. She will never get to know how great her momma was, sure she will hear stories but she will never really know her.
    I cant wait to try out your little tips though. They are my last hope before therapy, so im crossing my fingers that they'll work cause I dont have time for therapy with school and work. Thankyou for this, I really needed to read it. (:
    Reply to this
    1. 10/4/2011 4:02 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Oh my, I can see how upsetting this has to be for you.  Not just losing your best friend, having been with her just before she died, fielding calls from her mom (thinking you are being supportive to your friend), and on top of all that -- never getting to know what she was going to tell you.  That's a lot for anyone, especially for someone who has never had to deal with the grief of losing a loved one.

      Do try the exercises, but I suspect you may want to find time to see a grief counselor.  Even if you can't afford therapy, there are probably places in your town that offer grief counseling, hospital or client based.  It's been 1 1/4 years, and if it's not getting any easier, don't drag on your pain.  Seek professional help.

      Would keeping connected to her baby be a help to you?  Or, would it be more painful?

      I am so sorry you have to have experienced this, and sorry you lost your best friend.


      Reply to this
  • 10/8/2011 11:45 PM Andrew wrote:
    Less than a week ago I lost my best friend. She turned 29 on Sept 15. Her cause of death was defined as heart failure. She had no underlying health issues. I was the last to speak to her and it is haunting me. She was always the one that I could tell anything to. I miss her with all my heart. I cant seem to get through this. I have lost any faith or belief in any god because if there were a true god, she would still be here. I dont understand why, with all of the drug dealers and child molesters and murderers, she was taken. She was the kindest, sweetest, most caring person. The only belief I have is she gave and gave from her heart and that her heart just couldnt hold out. Im never going to get past this. Please help.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/9/2011 6:37 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Oh dear.  That has to be just awful for you -- the suddenness, no preparation, and she was so young.

      I can see how it would shake any belief you have.  You need to be kind to yourself (as she would want), and give yourself plenty of time to heal.  It's only been a week, you say.  Cry, think about her, about your experiences together, talk to people about her.  Write, maybe even a letter to her (that, of course, you can't send, but she may know you are doing it), letting her know how special she has been.  And, in time, you'll find a way to put her presence in your life into some perspective, to know what you will carry from her with you.

      And, what a lovely thing to say -- her heart gave out from having given so much love to others.

      You will get past this place you are right now.  You will find a way to still incorporate her into your life.  Do not, though, expect the grief to go away anytime soon.  Months, maybe a full year.  If you find yourself not able to take care of your daily life, seek out a grief therapist.  That really can help cut the grieving time.

      But, remember, you owe it to her to allow yourself to grieve.

      One sad irony for me is that of all the hundreds of articles I have written, I have gotten more responses from the one about losing a best friend than all the others combined.  If you haven't seen that, go to my blog and read some of them (and my comments).

      Reply to this
  • 4/15/2012 2:00 PM JennyUK wrote:
    I have just found this website and have spent some time reading through your own take on losing a best friend, as well as all the heartfelt responses and stories. If I could express my own grief at the moment it would help me too.
    My best friend of 38 years died on March 24th only three weeks ago. She had struggled with COPD for fifteen years, but a chest infection took her from this world in less than a week. I flew out from the UK to Spain where she had been living with her husband for the past 12 years, but she died only hours before I arrived. I believe that not being able to say goodbye to her, has made the pain of her loss only more intense.
    We met as students in 1974, and clicked immediately as you do with special people. Despite separation as her husband's career took them abroad all the time, we continued to visit each other and in my case, I would go to what ever country she resided in, including India, the USA, Ireland and the UK itself. We shared our pains and joys over our children, and wrote constantly about everyday life and the not so everyday. She was wise, funny, fiercely loyal and constant. I would like to believe I was the same. At any rate, she told me that was the case.
    Nothing has prepared me for this. Yes, I know, with what she had, I should have been mentally alert to the probability of her earlier death than my own, but I was utterly shocked by the speed of her death and how it's left such a huge hold in my heart. These past three weeks have been agony. I cry a lot and don't try to stop. The next moment, I am 'ok'. I function. I can even find humour in something on TV or what my husband might say. But the sadness and the sense of loss and bewilderment hangs over me. I honestly wonder how I can get through the years without her wise and loving counsel. One thing that I know will sustain me is the incredible number of letters, and in more recent years, our emails. How glad I am that I saved them all. I read and read and it comforts as well as induces tears. We were blessed in that we were able to write about the minutiae of life as well as the grander happenings, with total trust and openness. I cherish every word she wrote. She loved my letters and told me often of how, if she saw my name in her 'In box' she'd greedily devour mine first. What a tribute.
    This weekend, I've veered between being happy and chirpy, and then drenched in tears and unable to function. As I said earlier, I know, having read your words, that I will carry this inside my heart for the rest of my life, but that makes me so sad too.
    What I've come to understand is that when you love someone deeply their loss balanced by experiencing identical pain. That is the price we all pay. I wouldn't have it any other way. Wish me luck in my struggle all of you who know what I'm feeling tonight. I am changed by losing her and step into the future with far more timid steps than before. Not much used to scare me, but now? The world looks so different.
    Reply to this
    1. 4/16/2012 3:40 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      HI Jenny,
      I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's death but glad you found this site and could read comments from so many other women who have lost a best friend.

      What can I say that hasn't already been said.  The good news is you have had those great years together and you carry her within you.  A pretty lousy good news; of course you'd rather have her alive and on the other end of your emails and visits.  But, do hold on to the fact that she will always be with you.

      I will be doing a teleseminar series on losing a best friend real soon.  Contact me ( for more details.

      And, know that while no one can really know the pain of your loss, you are not alone in feeling such grief.


      Reply to this
      1. 5/4/2012 3:02 PM JennyUK wrote:
        Dear Karen,
        Thank you for your reply. I didn't see it until tonight so apologies for the delay in responding. It is now six weeks since Valerie died and the good news is that I am feeling less raw than when I first wrote. I am now preparing for her Memorial service this Sunday 13th May. I see it as a chance to pay tribute to a wonderful woman. I am still so proud of her. She was so brave, and so inspirational. It does help - you're right - in knowing that I am not alone. Your website has helped me to see that. But grieving is a lonely business and I still have miles to go. It will be lifelong. Sincerely, Jenny
        Reply to this
        1. 5/4/2012 3:19 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
          Hi Jenny,
          I'm glad you can feel some easing of the pain.  But, as you said, grieving is a lonely business and it will be a lifelong process.

          This is exactly why Dr. Beth Erickson and I have planned a (FREE) teleseminar on losing a best friend.  If you would like to join us, I think it may be helpful -- especially for breaking some of the aloneness.  You can CLICK here to register.

          Reply to this
  • 10/24/2012 11:21 PM Faelina Ianieri wrote:
    Your article is exactly what I needed to hear. My best friend Diane was killed in a horrific car crash just a week ago, along with two other women. I grew up with Diane, we were inseparable. The pain of losing her is unbearable, but I have gotten some closure from attending the funeral/viewing and keeping myself busy. But I always feel like no one really understands. This girl was my life. She gave me strength, and vice versa. I miss her more than words can describe. Thank you for your kind words.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/25/2012 9:46 AM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:

      Hi Faelina,

      I know it must be really hard without Diane.  Whatever little closure you have gotten from her funeral, that is wonderful, but as you know, the pain will be with you forever.  Over time, it will not be so unbearable, though.  Perhaps you can find a way to honor her in your life, in some concrete way.  That may help keep her alive for you.

      If you are not already on the list to receive my monthly newsletter, Women and the People They Love, sign up here.  In addition to have a least two articles each month, I tell you about upcoming events -- such as a teleseminar on losing your best friend!

      Reply to this
  • 10/25/2012 11:53 PM Monica wrote:
    I lost my best friend, Elaine, over the holidays. We are nearing the 1 year mark and I still have not accepted it. I can't. Everytime I tell myself she is gone it is like saying it for the first time, it never feels better. We were friends for 27 years. It was a blessing to have her in my life and to have a true friendship that lasted for so long, but who would have thought the end would come so soon and so abruptly? She was strong though. It took 2 ruptured anuerysms to kill her. I will miss her strength most of all. My world will never be the same again.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/26/2012 8:38 AM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:

      Hi Monica,

      No one needs to tell you the pain of losing your best friend -- and 27 years is  a life time.  And, it probably won't make you fee any better knowing that of all the hundreds of articles I have written over the decades, this one about losing a best friend and the gap it eaves in your heart and life has received four times as many comments as all of my other articles together.

      We (society) knows how to mourn and support mourners who have lost a parent, spouse, child, and even to some extent a sibling.  But, for some odd reason, supporting someone who has lost a best friend is not considered in the same category.

      I am sorry for the whole in your heart.  You are right; your world will never be the same, but hopefully, you will find a way to incude her in your world as the years go by, so the pain will not be so raw.

      Reply to this
  • 1/3/2013 7:03 AM Ali wrote:
    After losing my best friend, her mom directed me to some books - but I can't find them so I typed in 'losing my best friend' into a search engine and here I am and for the first time since November, I feel a sense of - relief? hope?
    I lost my best friend on 11.11.12 after a friendship since 1988 when we were 14. I live in England and she was in South Africa. She had been ill during her second pregnancy and the baby was delivered at 26 weeks (he is doing well), she took a steady decline and passed away a mere 6 days later without even knowing she had had her baby. I couldn't get to South Africa in time, I couldn't speak to her as she was sedated. And when I got the phone call at 5am, I knew without answering it what was on the other line. I let out a sound, that I can only describe as half my soul being ripped from my body. And that's exactly how I feel now, that half my soul has just gone.
    I'm an emotional person but very placid and this sadness and anger is totally alien to me. I cannot function, I sit on my sofa and I howl with grief. I drive my car to work and I sob uncontrollably. As I have a child of my own, I can't cry in front of him (not the hysterics I'm doing). I didn't make it to her funeral due to financial and time constraints. I just don't know what to do. I'm surly, I'm horrible at the moment and I'm pushing everyone away.
    She was the one person who knew everything about me and vice versa. I will never have another friend like her and I feel as if this will mark who I am from now on. I cannot tell you how many times, I've picked up the phone or turned on Skype to say hello. On a Tuesday evening (our Skype time), I wander from living room to kitchen, knowing I'm missing our chats.And all the while, I'm conscious that my grief can't be anything compared to her parents. (her husband has already moved on)I made a memorial page on facebook with a view to putting it all in a scrapbook for the children when they are older. I just feel so alone. I blog but finding it hard to capture how I feel when words have never been stuck before.
    Someone said to me recently, that a best friend is like a soul mate. I think they are spot on. Thank you for this page, this site, the comments make me feel a little less alone.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/3/2013 11:38 AM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:

      Hi Ali,

      I am so very very sorry that you had to lose your best friend.  (And how wonderful that you have had the experience of having such a best friend; not everyone does.)

      I am really glad you found this blog helpful; as you see, lots of people know the awful pain you are experiencing.  But reality, nothing is going to be helpful for a while.  It’s only been 5-6 weeks.   The hysterical crying will subside in a month or so; the pain, tho, will last a  life time and will mark who you are, as you said.  Yet, in a year or so, you will be in less horrific pain, so be kind to yourself during this time.   The pain and anger you feel is normal and thank goodness you feel it; she deserves your feelings of loss!  And don’t be surprised, if at times you also feel numb.  All these feelings will rumble around inside you, but they will lessen over time.

      And, it is perfectly natural that Tuesdays will always be a tender spot for you.  But, Tuesdays will move from pain to a nostalgia in time (in a lot of time).

      Your idea of making the scrapbook for her kids is a wonderful idea; you represent parts of her and her life that they will never know – other than through you.  So, that is a real gift to them – and to her.

      You are alone in the intense grief, but I hope you are not alone; that you can share some of the pain and grief with your husband, friends, family.  They won’t get the depth of your pain, but you can talk to them; that will help you a bit.

      You may want to seek some professional help from a therapist near.  If you don’t know someone, tell me where you live and I’ll see if I know someone there.  Another possibility, since you do Skype, that we could work together.

      The bottom line, though, is to be kind to yourself; you owe her all the grief you are feeling – as a tribute to your deep friendship.

      Reply to this
  • 1/3/2013 3:01 PM Assunta Sagnelli wrote:
    Ali suggested I read your blog...I lost my very best friend on 20 Jan 2011, and I have to admit that I still see clothes she would like and think 'I must tell Norma about...'..and then I drive past her apartment and am saddened that it no longer has her essence...and I still get angry at her for leaving..she promised to be there for me and help me get older.....
    Reply to this
    1. 1/3/2013 5:32 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Hi Assunta,

      Thank your friends for sending you to this blog.  Of everything that I write (books & articles for decades), this blog and this specific topic gets more readers than anything else.  I hurt for your loss but am sure that Norma would appreciate your still thinking of her and missing her essence.  Don’t lose that.  The anger, in time, will dissipate, but it’s really understandable – she let you down.  Give yourself permission to feel every feeling for however long you need to.  A good friend deserves your still caring about her and missing her.  The hole in your heart will be there forever, but the pain will fade in time.  Be gentle with yourself.



      Reply to this
  • 4/7/2013 11:44 PM Maria Eugenia wrote:
    Thank you very much for this article. And also many thanks to all the people brave enough to tell their stories. Indeed all of you have gave me the validation I needed to hear that grieving the death of a friend takes time.

    Four months ago, I lost one of my very best friends in the world. We became friends in school at 9 years, and continued to be friends until her death, when she was just 34 years and she was pregnant with her first child. She had a car accident and she died inmediatly. Another friend called me to let me know the news. I will never forget that day. I can not imagine a world without her.

    I feel so many things, I feel guilt of all the things that I should have said to her (we spoke three days before that, and she told me that she appreciate it all the support I have giving her throughout her pregnancy, but I was in a rush and I didnt say much about it, and say "good bye" very quickly). I feel such a deep feeling of sadness that I will not meet her baby, that I will not see her happy as a mother.

    I miss that this year, I will not hear her beautiful voice telling me jokes about that August is the best month in the world (was her birthday). I miss that I dont have this person that always will respond me kindly and lovingly and know me so much that I didnt have to pretend anything and always ready to help me and motivate me. I miss her fun, loving, generous personality. I just miss her.
    Last year, we spent the whole day of my birthday together, as I wanted to go to a SPA but not wanted to go alone and asked her to join me. At the end, she pay for all the expenses, and we had THE best day. I am happy that I have so many memories of her. But I am so devastated because I know there will be no more.

    I think that at lot of times, I dissaprove her choices, and let her know, but sometimes I was too critical of her (with her or with my other friends). I will love to let her know that I am sorry, that I love her so much and always wishi her well. And I will love to be able to give her a hug and let he know that she is my sister.

    Thanks for the opportunity for writing this up. All of you, the ones have written before me, and the original poster are in my prayer. Hope God will ease our pain and comfort us.
    Reply to this
    1. 4/8/2013 10:23 AM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      I am so glad for you that this article and all the   other  wonderful people who have responded to this article have been of support and validation for you.

      Yes you will miss not being able to tell her the things you haven't yet said or to share the things coming ahead, but there is still a way to keep her in your life.

      You could keep a running letter (or periodic letters) to her, telling her everything you want to say on any particular day.  Chances are, over time you will have incorporated her into your inner world and not need to be saying things outloud.  And, do not be upset if, in time, days or even weeks go by without your thinking about her.  That, too is normal.  But, once a good friend, she will ALWAYS be with you.


      Reply to this
  • 9/19/2013 10:44 PM Holly wrote:
    My best friend died suddenly on Monday from a heart attack. We've known each other since we were babies--almost 60 years. Our parents were best friends so we grew up together. We lived far away from each other for the last 30 years, but we stayed in touch, seeing each other when we could, and I spent a week with her not too long ago. We planned on seeing each other at least once a year and hoped to take some trips together. She knows my history, and I knew hers. I have so many memories of us as little girls together, children, teens, and then adults. I can't believe she is really gone. It's as painful as losing a beloved sister.
    Reply to this
    1. 9/21/2013 8:50 AM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Oh, how sad.  I am impressed that you two had been able to maintain your close friendship for almost 60 years.  what a blessing that memory will be to you.  But, of course, it won't eliminate the pain of losing her.  How fortunate that you had just spent time with her.  But, of course, that won't eliminate the pain of not taking the future trips you two had talked about.  Yes, losing a best friend is (can be) as painful as losing a sister -- a sister of your choosing.  I'm sure you've heard all the phrases like, time heals all wounds, etc.  But, the truth is, hopefully, you will always carry a small piece of her, and thus your loss of her, inside.  Perhaps in time, that loss will become a sad smile of togetherness.  If you would like to consult with me about this, don't hesitate to write.  And, perhaps reading the comments here from so many other women who have lost their best friend my give you a bit of solace (only a bit -- it's going to hurt for a long time). 
      Reply to this
  • 10/8/2013 9:03 AM Ruth wrote:
    almost three months ago I lost my best friend of 43 years. We were only 8 yrs old when we met and instantly there was a connection. We went thru everything together. school, girl scouts, dating, marriages, children, traveling together on girls get away and with our families. For the past 8 years I have gone thru an terrible divorce and Patti was there thru it all. I feel alone and empty. I miss her so much. She died of complication from a heart by pass due to dialysis. It should not have happened. We were suppose to have so much more tie together. I miss her so much.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/9/2013 5:58 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Ruth, I am so sorry to hear of your losing such a good and long time friend.  I'm glad you found this article, but I know nothing you hear from anyone will lessen the pain.  And, three months is such a short time after a life long friendship.  You are lucky to have had such a good friend; she is lucky to have had you.  The pain of losing a best friend is something people rarely appreciate.  Be generous with yourself, give yourself plenty of time to miss her and think about her and cry and be angry and all the other emotions you are feeling.  It's all normal, and she deserves them all!

      If I can be of help in any way, don't hesitate to contact me again.

      Reply to this
  • 2/10/2014 12:44 PM Rebecca wrote:
    So sorry for your loss! I lost my best friend, Heather, on July 1st, 2013 to a rare & relentless form of cancer. And, I am still struggling to mourn and accept her loss. She was my confidant and the one that I discussed everything with to include our kid's, our husbands, a new recipe, a new piece of clothing, and on and on. So, today I decided to write her a letter and then I googled "grieving a best friend" and found this website. I am amazed to see how many others are in a similar situation. To read all of your words, helps me a bit. Still really struggling to move on and open myself up to others. I have not dealt well with this at all by gaining weight, drinking a little too much and not getting myself back on track. She, of course, would give me hell at this point for not taking control and moving forward. I really want to move forward, but can't accept she's gone. I know, in time...
    Reply to this
    1. 2/10/2014 9:18 PM Karen Gail Lewis wrote:
      Hi Rebecca,
      I am so  glad you found this and glad you find some comfort in other women sharing their loss, too.
      Talking to other friends, reading articles like this one, hearing others' experiences can help some.  But nothing can remove the permanent loss from you life. 
      Time does heal some of the pain, but not all of it.  Talking with a therapist can also be helpful.

      Over time, though, if the pain does not subside, I sometimes find that what holds back the healing is anger.  Of course there is anger at your friend for leaving you.  Yes, I know she didn't do it on purpose, so you probably feel guilty or mean being mad at her,.  But, if you care about someone so much, it makes sense you would be angry at her leaving you.  Do not be afraid of your anger.  You have to love someone very much to feel the anger.  think about it this way:  if you didn't love her, you wouldn't care that much if she leaves you.  Your anger is a tribute to how much she meant to you.  Owning the anger along with your grief is your tribute to her.  The anger will subside once you stop denying it's existence.  And, the healing is more effective, too.

      Feel free to contact me if you have questions about any of this or you just want to talk.

      Reply to this
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